Image credits: Gerd Altmann
News Article

WHO Convenes Emergency Committee as Monkeypox Cases Increase

By Rodrigo Andrade | Fri, 07/22/2022 - 17:25

The World Health Organization (WHO) convened the Monkeypox Emergency Committee to discuss the current status of the monkeypox outbreak and the health implications of the disease in 71 countries, which have reported over 14,000 cases.

The committee had previously convened on June 25, 2022, declaring that monkeypox did not constitute a Public Health Emergency on International Concern (PHEIC). The declaration made at the time explained that the monkeypox had not reached the highest level of global alert, which currently applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio.

The committee’s decisions will prioritize public health after “the consideration of many factors, with the ultimate goal of protecting public health,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO. He also highlighted the importance of evaluating the accuracy of the public health methods. “As the outbreak develops, it is important to assess the effectiveness of public health interventions in different settings to better understand what works and what does not.”

The current evolution of the disease has not been very predictable. While some countries have seen a declining trend, others are seeing infections increase. Other six regions reported their first cases during the third week of July.

Discrimination remains a critical problem for those who had a monkeypox infection, as the stigmatization of monkeypox could make the disease spread faster and make it more difficult to identify and attack. Adhanom warns that men who have sex with men could be “stigmatized or blamed… making the outbreak much harder to track, and to stop.”

Information is the best tool to understand the development of the disease, but countries in West and Central Africa have shared scarce information, compromising the current situation in the countries where this disease has been historically neglected, said Adhanom. While the UN is working with the affected regions and communities, the inaccessibility of these regions represents a “substantial challenge.”

As of July 14, 2022, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) reported 1,981 confirmed cases from 15 countries in the Americas. In Mexico, there are officially 35 confirmed monkeypox cases, with 22 being diagnosed in Mexico City, nine in Jalisco, one in Veracruz, one in Colima, one in Baja California and one in Nuevo Leon, said Sylvain Aldighieri, Incident Manager for COVID-19, PAHO, as reported by Animal Politico.

Photo by:   Gerd Altmann
Rodrigo Andrade Rodrigo Andrade Junior Journalist & Industry Analyst